Congressman Flores meets with U.S. Paratroopers stationed in Lithuania.
This visit provided me with close-up examples of Russia’s aggression in the region. The things I learned on this trip will help me to work with my House colleagues to adjust our policies in order to better deal with Russian President Putin’s extremist behavior and to counteract his attempts to geographically reshape Europe and weaken the U.S. and our allies in the region. It also provided me with an updated view of Russia’s use of its energy resources to carry out its aggression in the area.
Over the past few decades, Eastern and Western Europe have allowed Russia to be the predominate supplier of oil and natural gas to power their economies. Now that those countries have become addicted to Russian energy sources, Putin has not hesitated to use energy as a tool for military, economic, and propaganda purposes in the region. Many of these affected countries have finally begun to realize how vulnerable they are to Putin’s whims, and they are actively looking for ways to reduce their dependence on Russian energy. In this regard, the U.S. has started working closely with the leaders of many of these countries to help them reduce this dependence. For example, last December, as the primary energy expert in Congress, I worked with my fellow colleagues to successfully lift the ban on American crude oil exports.
This important action has already had a hugely positive geopolitical and security impact upon those nations. In addition, the House has also voted to accelerate the approval of American liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities to export our abundant natural gas to these European economies that are hungry to reduce their vulnerability to Russian energy aggression. Both Lithuania and Ukraine have made great strides to reduce their dependence on Russian energy; however, they still desire to work with the U.S. and our allies to continue improvements in this area. By meeting with government and energy industry leaders in these countries, we will be able to continue developing effective energy policies to help them become independent of Russian energy sources and to have energy options for economic stability and national security. I remain committed to working toward the implementation of robust energy solutions to achieve American energy security, to strengthen our allies, and to weaken those countries who are opposed to American interests.
Servicemembers' Choice in Transition Act
There is perhaps no greater sacrifice that an American can make than to serve our country, particularly during wartime. Because of their sacrifice, millions here and around the world enjoy the blessings of freedom and liberty. Military service is challenging and dangerous. But returning to civilian life can also pose significant difficulties for some of our veterans. To ensure our servicemen and women are receiving the assistance they need to transition to civilian life, I introduced the Servicemembers’ Choice in Transition Act
. This legislation helps provide better job and employment training assistance to veterans who are being separated from active duty and transitioning back to their normal lives. We owe it to our veterans to ensure that their transition into the workforce is as smooth as possible.
I was pleased that this bill was included in the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed Congress and was signed into law. Our veterans deserve the best possible benefits, health care, and a robust and efficient VA support system.
A Better Way – Constitutional Authority
The Constitution clearly states that Congress is in charge of writing our laws and that the president is in charge of enforcing them. Unfortunately, however, since January 2009, Americans have seen our executive branch of government continually overstep its constitutional authority. Economic opportunities and freedom for hardworking American families have been dramatically diminished by unelected, unaccountable, out-of-control Washington bureaucrats. These bureaucrats are abusing their power to put politics and ideology above the law, which threatens the freedoms and liberties of all Americans.
Congress has a duty to restore the confidence of Americans in their government. In this regard, House Republicans are committed to ensuring that the executive branch be held accountable to follow the law and to adhere to the Constitution. Our “A Better Way” agenda works to reclaim Congress’s constitutional authority. We achieve this by protecting hardworking Americans against unnecessary government harassment; rein in unelected, out-of-control federal bureaucrats; limit executive discretion; use the appropriations process to keep regulators in check; and strengthen congressional oversight.
Hardworking American families can count on us to continue working to rein in the out-of-control executive branch and reclaim the principles developed by our Founding Fathers. All Americans should have confidence in our constitutional system of governance and preserve the separation of powers to protect our constitutional liberties. To learn more about the constitutional authority portion of our “A Better Way” agenda, visit better.gop.
As always, I encourage each of you to continue praying for our country during these challenging times, and for our military personnel and first responders who protect us each day.
With great respect,